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Lexus on countdown for GS F launch

F for first: The Lexus GS F marks a departure from the bland for the Japanese luxury brand’s large sedan.

February launch planned for V8-propelled Lexus sports flagship, the GS F

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Lexus logo15 Oct 2015

By RON HAMMERTON

LEXUS Australia has confirmed that its new performance flagship, the GS F, will arrive in Australia in February – precisely a year after its ‘F’ stablemate, the RC F coupe, rumbled into this market.

Sharing the same naturally aspirated direct-injection 5.0-litre engine as the RC F – producing 351kW and 530Nm – the big rear-wheel-drive sports sedan will finally give Toyota’s luxury branch a weapon against the likes of Mercedes-AMG’ s E63 S and BMW’s M5, albeit one with less power and torque than the twin-turbocharged V8 German monsters.

It is the first time that Lexus has applied the F treatment to the GS, which has hitherto been regarded as a soft and luxurious boulevard cruiser.

The Australian launch date for the GS F is a few months later than originally planned – Lexus Australia had hoped to get its hands on it before the end of this year when the rest of the revised GS range arrives.

However, the company will just be happy to inject some sparkle into the GS range that has delivered just 104 sales in Australia this year – way behind its major European rivals.

Lexus Australia chief executive Sean Hanley said the GS F represented an ideal addition to the brand’s expanding line-up of F models.

“GS F will be the second F model to launch in 12 months, which firmly indicates Lexus’ intention to broaden its high-performance vehicle portfolio,” he said.

“This dynamic vehicle delivers accessible performance for all drivers, an unforgettable sound from its naturally aspirated V8 engine and a range of luxury and convenience features typical of a premium Lexus sedan.” Along with the new top-of-the-GS-range sports variant, a new entry-level GS200t is also in the pipeline for Australia, arriving within weeks.

Pricing and final specification will be announced at launch, but expect it to be well south of the current most expensive GS, the hybrid 45h Sports Luxury, that commands $119,500 plus on-road costs.

Like the RC F, the GS F comes standard with an eight-speed direct-shift automatic transmission driving the rear wheels via a torque-vectoring differential.

The electronically controlled differential not only splits the toque between the rear wheels according a number of driving parameters, thus maximising traction, but also can be switched between three modes – standard, slalom and track.

The transmission automatically blips the throttle on down-changes, while four driving modes provide a choice of driving styles, from ECO to Sports +.

If that wasn’t enough, various nanny electronics – ESC, traction control and so on – can be switched between Sport and Expert for track fun.

In full performance Sports + mode, the exhaust note is piped into the cabin via the rear speakers, for extra sensory stimulation.

Lexus says the GS suspension – double wishbone at the front and multi-link at the back – gets a sports overhaul, along with extra bracing around the chassis for greater rigidity.

Sitting 15mm lower than the regular variants, the GS F’s overall styling is much more aggressive than that of the standard GS, with a wilder front grille, flared guards, rear diffuser and carbon-fibre rear spoiler.

Sitting behind the fat 19-inch alloy wheels are orange-painted brake callipers carrying the F logo.

The Brembo brakes have six-piston callipers at the front, chewing on 360mm discs. At the back, the callipers are four-piston on 345mm discs.

The brakes are cooled via ducts running from just under the headlights in the new front fascia that also includes bigger openings for engine and transmission cooling.

The electric steering has been recalibrated for a sportier feel, while the steering wheel shaft is said to have been made more rigid.

Inside, a big electronic tacho is front and centre for the driver. This can change appearance according to the driving mode selected by the driver.

A head-up display will be standard in the Australian-spec car, providing information such as speedo, revs and gear.

Sports seats are also standard, upholstered in either leather or Alcantara, depending on the variant.

The F theme is carried through to the leather-bound steering wheel, transmission lever and foot pedals.

A premium 17-speaker Mark Levinson surround-sound system will be included on the Australian cars, along with satellite navigation on a wide 12.3-inch touchscreen.

Safety technologies include autonomous braking, lane departure warning, rear cross traffic alert, blind spot monitor, active cruise control, tyre pressure warning and adaptive headlights.

Major rivals are expected to include the Mercedes-AMG E63 and BMW M5, which are priced from $250,540 and $185,000 respectively.

However, the GS will not be a performance match for these German cars, with the Benz’s bigger 5.5-litre twin-turbo engine producing 530kW and 800Nm and the BMW M5’s force-fed 4.4-litre unit producing 423kW and 680Nm.

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